Aspirin cuts the risk of oral cancer among smokers
Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may protect those who smoke from oral cancers as per a study presented at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research today.
"The use of NSAIDs among smokers protected against oral cancer development," said Jon Sudbo, M.D., Ph.D., D.D.S., a cancer researcher from the Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway, and lead author on the study.
People who took NSAIDs over extended periods of time and were light to moderate tobacco smokers had 65 percent less risk of developing oral cancer than smokers who went without NSAIDs. These results are from a population-based study on patients from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Cancer Registry.
"The results of a significant reduction in oral cancer risk – particularly in light to moderate active smokers – suggest that NSAID use may provide anti-carcinogenetic effect while the smokers are subjecting themselves to tobacco insult," Sudbo added.
The protective effect of the NSAIDs was seen best for those smokers who were considered 30 or less pack-year consumers of tobacco. A pack-year of smoking consists of averaging one pack of cigarettes per day per year. Hence 30 pack-years of smoking represent smoking of one pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years and so on. The effectiveness of NSAIDs decreased as people smoke more than 30 pack-year levels.
This data comes from the analysis of 908 individuals, half of who had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. They considered the use of six NSAIDs including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxene, indomethacine, piroxicame, and ketoprofene, as well as acetaminophen. All types of NSAIDs were effective at reducing the rate of oral cancer.
Acetaminophen (acetaminophen or tylenol), a non-aspirin pain relief medication, was ineffective at reducing the risk of developing oral cancer among smokers.